1st Edition

Forensic Psychoanalysis From Sub-Clinical Psychopaths to Serial Killers

By Brett Kahr Copyright 2025
    258 Pages
    by Routledge

    258 Pages
    by Routledge

    Forensic Psychoanalysis examines the traumatic psychological origins of violence and explores the ways in which such disasters can be prevented and treated.

    The book encapsulates Professor Brett Kahr’s lengthy career in the field of forensic mental health, investigating all aspects of this vital arena, from the history of criminality to the current-day application of psychoanalysis and psychodynamic psychotherapy to the care of rapists, arsonists, genital exhibitionists, paedophiles, and murderers. This gripping text surveys more than one century of literature on the psychotherapeutic treatment of the criminally insane and provides tremendous insight into the how mental health professions can contribute to the reduction of global violence.

    Forensic Psychoanalysis will be crucial for all readers interested in both the prevention of criminality and its psychological treatment.

    Books by Professor Brett Kahr



    Professor Brett Kahr.


    Dr. Carine Minne.


    Confessions of a Private Forensic Practitioner.


    The Ugly World of Forensic Mental Health.



    Chapter One.

    “let the great Axe fall”:  From Ancient Babylonian Torture to Modern Forensic Psychotherapy.

    Chapter Two.

    Explosive Patients:  Surviving Petrifying Psychotherapeutic Experiences.




    Chapter Three.

    Why Do Men Expose Their Genitals?:  The Unconscious Origins of Exhibitionism.

    Chapter Four.

    From Penile Trauma to Flashing:  A Case of Forensic Disability Psychotherapy.

    Chapter Five.

    Fragile Monster:  How to Make a Paedophile Talk.




    Chapter Six.

    When Daddy Kills the Dog:  Pet Murder and the Infanticidal Attachment.

    Chapter Seven.

    Castration Anxiety in Men Who Murder.




    Chapter Eight.

    The Sub-Clinical Psychopath:  Committing Crimes Without Breaking the Law.

    Chapter Nine.

    Criminality in the Bedroom:  Unconscious Sadism in Non-Forensic Couples.


    The Future of Forensic Psychoanalysis.


    Original Sources of Chapters

    Professor Brett Kahr’s Selected Forensic Publications: 1985-2025.




    Professor Brett Kahr has worked in the mental health field for over forty years. He is Senior Fellow at the Tavistock Institute of Medical Psychology in London and, also, Visiting Professor of Psychoanalysis and Mental Health at Regent’s University London. A trained historian, Kahr is both an Honorary Fellow as well as the Honorary Director of Research at the Freud Museum London. He is the author of twenty books and series editor of over eighty-five further titles. He serves as Chair of the Scholars Committee of the British Psychoanalytic Council and, additionally, as a Consultant Psychotherapist at The Balint Consultancy. He works with individuals and couples in Central London.

    “This is a work of genius.  We are extremely blessed to have Brett Kahr as part of our community. His contributions are truly remarkable in so many different arenas.”

    Profesora Estela Welldon is Emeritus Consultant Psychiatrist at the Portman Clinic in London and an Honorary Member of the American Psychoanalytic Association as well as the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award of the British Psychoanalytic Council.  Her many classic books include Mother, Madonna, Whore:  The Idealization and Denigration of Women.

    “Once again, Professor Brett Kahr has given us a rich work about the treatment of all kinds of offenders. He is one of the most experienced practitioners in the field of forensic psychotherapy, and his books never fail to inform and stimulate. He writes with warmth and humanity about what he learned from decades of meeting people for therapy, and his writer’s voice is “analytic” in the best sense, going beyond the surface level. There is so much to recommend in this book, especially the chapters on the historical account of the development of forensic psychotherapy and on what Professor Kahr calls the “sub-clinical” patient, describing people with intense feelings of cruelty, hate, and rage who have no history of convictions for violence. The book ends with a plea for more psychotherapy for perpetrators of violence because it can really help people change their minds for the better – a view which I heartily endorse.”

    Dr. Gwen Adshead is a forensic psychiatrist and psychotherapist at Broadmoor Hospital. She has worked in prisons and secure psychiatric facilities for over thirty years and has published widely on the theory and practice of forensic psychotherapy. Her first book for a general audience, written with Eileen Horne, is called The Devil You Know.

    “In this engaging book, Professor Kahr combines the intellectual rigour of an academic historian with the acumen and compassion of an experienced clinician. His analysis of the development of forensic psychotherapy is compelling and highlights the remarkable achievements of the discipline to date. Importantly, he also emphasises future roles for forensic psychotherapy in addressing social inequality, prison reform and, also, taking a preventative, public health approach to violence reduction and to “rehumanising the dehumanised”.”

    Dr. Colin Campbell is a Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist and Associate Medical Director of the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, UK, as well as the President of the International Association for Forensic Psychotherapy.


    “This is an utterly splendid and extraordinary book for several reasons. Professor Kahr skilfully manages to draw us in and open our eyes to the fascinating field of forensic psychoanalysis through his expert and careful examination. Due to his vast and deep clinical knowledge, as well as his artistry as an historian par excellence, we are invited into the extreme end of human experience and its many challenging manifestations in the consulting room. This book deserves your study.”

    Richard Curen is Chair of the Forensic Psychotherapy Society and a member of the Board of the International Association for Forensic Psychotherapy. A Visiting Lecturer and Supervisor at the Portman Clinic, and a member of the Institute of Psychotherapy and Disability, he works in private practice in London.

    “In this truly unique panoply, Professor Brett Kahr has created a book that encompasses the multitudinous arenas of forensic psychotherapy, past, present, and future.  His case descriptions are compelling, even astonishing, and cross a spectrum of examples from more traditional forensic cases of incarcerated, dangerous criminals, to vignettes of marital couples and, of especial importance, he also includes so-called “non-forensic” or “sub-clinical” cases whom one might encounter in private practice. Professor Brett Kahr’s encyclopaedic knowledge as an historian and as a clinician is further enriched by how compassionately he writes when referring to perpetrators and victims, as well as in his examination of modern thinking about “rehumanising the dehumanised”.”

    Dr. Carine Minne is the Chair of the Violence Committee of the International Psychoanalytical Association. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of The International Journal of Forensic Psychotherapy, and the Past President of the International Association for Forensic Psychotherapy.

    “Brett Kahr provides a lively and illuminating introduction to the history and practice of forensic psychotherapy, including illustrations of a range of outpatient treatments with various offenders or near offenders. He brings to life many of the early generations of practitioners who have contributed to this speciality. Brett Kahr’s openness about his countertransference, for example fear, disgust, and concern, will aid those embarking on such complex, challenging but also rewarding work.”

    Dr Cleo Van Velsen is a Consultant Psychiatrist in Forensic Psychotherapy and Consultant Psychiatrist in the Family Trauma Team at the Anna Freud Centre for Children and Families, and, also, a member of the British Psychoanalytical Society.